Ridiculously Large Jacks

On June 18th, Milwaukee Makerspace participated in The Great Milwaukee Race as a challenge sponsor.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

The Great Milwaukee Race is a scavenger hunt/series of challenges across downtown Milwaukee that was started in 2010 by Fit Milwaukee and friends.  This year’s event was put on by Fit Milwaukee, AJ Bombers and Performance Running Outfitters.  In 2010, 50 teams of 2-4 racers competed in the inaugural race. This year 75 teams raced throughout downtown Milwaukee and along the lakefront to find all 10 of the challenge locations and get their passports stamped.

The post i made a couple weeks ago (I’m welding! I’m a welder now!) about my Ridiculously Large Jacks was a preview of the challenge that we would run at the race.  After the initial batch of jacks was finished, Sean, Kevin, Adam and David helped me fine tune the game a bit in our hangar before the event itself.

Shane helped me run the event on race day and it worked like this:

  • Team would decode the clue to our location and decide on when they should come to our station.
  • When they showed up, they had to nominate two players.
  • One player was the bouncer and was in charge of bouncing and catching a kickball.
  • The other player (the grabber) donned a pair of gardening gloves and had to pick up the jacks.
  • On the first bounce, the grabber would have to pick up and hold onto one jack before the bouncer caught the ball.
  • On the second bounce, the grabber would have to pick up 2 more jacks while holding onto the previous jacks.
  • Repeat for 3 and 4 jacks.

The game only took a couple of minutes when done correctly, but some teams were faster than others. We also saw a variety of techniques.  Some grabbers would try to stash the nearly 12″ diameter jacks under their arms.  Some folks spread the jacks out between their hands and used them like claws to scoop up the remaining jacks.  One women even stashed the jacks in her running shorts, but they were a bit heavier than she bargained for.

We were stationed at the underpass at water and pearson, across from Trocadero.  After watching what was happening for a while, the Trocadero bartenders popped out to see what was happening up close.  We invited them to play a game and they did pretty well!  Another couple came by to watch and started laughing at the silliness they saw so we invited them to play as well.  They had a few close calls with some wild bounces, but took care of the round with only a couple of do-overs.  They looked pretty happy by the end of the game.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

We heard really good feedback from racers and the organizers of the event.  The game was odd enough to give people pause before they jumped in, but easy enough that it could be completed in a couple of minutes.  The fun we had with this has led us to discuss making some more oversized games to bring to parks in the area. Stay tuned for more info on this front.

Thanks again to Fit Milwaukee and the other Great Milwaukee Race organizers for letting us be a part of this event and thanks to the racers for being such good sports!

I’m welding! I’m a welder now!

Well, ok, i’m a pretty poor welder, but i’m only making oversized jacks, not bridges, so i’ll take it.

I am making an oversized game of Jacks.  Originally i thought i could use some steel rods, someone suggested tire irons and i picked up a 3/8″ threaded rod (Home Depot trip #1) to try out.  After i talked with Tom and Rich a bit they suggested that i use Carriage Bolts instead of a bare rod.  This looked great because the carriage bolts have a nice rounded end that help make the object really look like a jack.  Ok, materials were set, so i ran to Home Depot (trip #2) with Matt G.

After returning with a set of 6 bolts to try things out with, Tom came up with a nice jig for me to use with slots for the 4 bars and a vertical hole so i could stand the bolts up.  We dug through the scrap wood box and found a good piece and a few minutes after i plugged in the table saw, i had the channels cut out.  Next up was the center hole.  Rich gave me a quick tour of the drill press and we found a good hole saw to use and then my jig was complete.

Now onto the welding!  Rich set me up with our MIG welder, which is pretty much as simple as it gets.  Lay out and secure the pieces, put the clamp on one end, point and pull the trigger.  We quickly had our first jack.  At this point in my career as a welder, i am a firm proponent of the “More Weld” school of structural engineering. I know some of the academics in their ivory towers may frown on this, but I’m ok with that.

Jack and Jig
With the proof of concept ready, i headed back to Home Depot (trip #3) to get a couple boxes of bolts.  After returning to the space, i cranked out 8 more jacks, low-efficiency assembly line style.

We had some fun tossing them around the space.  They make a great sound when you roll out a pile of them and look great bouncing off the cement after being flung 15 feet in the air.  The other folks at the space had a good laugh at my ridiculous build.

We’re going to have a test game with the jacks at the space on Tuesday.  I’m not entirely sure how many of these things someone can pick up quickly, but we’ll find out soon.  Why am I building an oversized game of jacks?  Well, that’s a bit of a secret for now.  :)
Jacks and Feet for Scale

June Music Group Night

June’s Music Group meeting tonight was Kevin, Matt G and myself scheming, listening to cool stuff, having some whiskey and playing around with max/msp tutorials.

The MESSSSS (Makersace Eight Speaker Super Surround Sound System) that we debuted at Bay View Gallery Night Friday went over pretty well, but could use some work.  We ran it off of 3 stereo receivers and 4 android phones coordinated by the PBST (Push the Buttons at the Same Time) protocol and want something a bit more controlled.  Also, the levels on our pieces were very different so we had super subtle things followed by ear-splitting shrieks.  While i’m personally into that kind of thing, it didn’t make for a terribly cohesive whole.  

We left the meeting with 3 main actions:

  1. rebuild a spare PC I have with an 8 channel audio card to be the new brains of MESSSSS.
  2. Start on an android app to control playback from multiple devices at once.
  3. Kevin and I are going to spend some serious time learning max/msp. I have done a couple of things with it but they are ugly and hacky and i only made them work by pushing things together really hard.

If we can get the new MESSSSS brains up and running, we are going to refocus the music club meetings on performance and recording.

Skills Video

What skills do the members of the Milwaukee Makerspace bring to the table? What skills are they looking for? What will you find if you come down to the Milwaukee Makerspace? Find out from the founders and members what they know and what you may learn if you come down to join us.Millions of thanks to David of Korporate Media for the amazing videos! http://www.korporate-media.com

(Belated) Week 3 Project Snippets

Every week we want to let folks inside and outside the space know what has been happening and what is likely to happen. We started this in week 3, but I didn’t get around to posting them until now. We’ll try to keep these coming more regularly in the future!

Anyway, onto the Weekly Snippets for 2011 – Week 3 (jan 14-20) (full details after the jump)

Last Week:
– Disassembled the stage from our Psuedo-opening party
– Made frames for two pieces of art.
– Upgraded my storage-palet by adding shelves.
– Built a support structure for my Giant Evil Wind Chimes so I can hang them from the wall while I work on them. I’m working on cutting stainless steel wire rope and crimping on ferrules to attach the ~5 foot long pipes.

This Week:
– Finish hanging the Chime pipes and make a striker and sail so that wind can actually ring them.
– Work on brazing bronze rod into a sound generating sculpture/instrument.
– Hopefully help Tom and Sean move Tom’s kiln into the makerspace

Last Week:
– Last Thursday I started making an intrusion alarm from MAKE Electronics book. Today I finished cleaning the lathe and the laser cutter.

This Week:
– I will be working on the intrusion alarm this week. I would also like to start working on my power wheels car in the next one to two weeks.

I had a good week in the makerspace. I was able to mold and cast my
magnetic spheres up to airsoft diameter with passable results. I had
a moderately successful test of my sensor as a shooting target. And I
figured out a way to mass produce my sensor coils using only metal
washers and business cards (and of course magnet wire). So I tried it
out and made ten sensors at once. I am not satisfied with the
performance of my sensor at this point, it has only about a 50%
success rate. I will be concentrating this week on getting the signal
amplified and thinking about other analog signal processing
techniques. I am going to have to learn a thing or two about

Matt G:
Last week:
– Introduced a few new folks to the Makerspace and the group. Word of
mouth seems to be a great advertising tool so the thing I’ve learned
is to give as many tours as possible.
– Began working on several camera rig projects with my friend David
Overbeck. (RC motorized dolly, pan/tilt head, action camera rig, etc.)
– David has agreed to help us shoot some promo / how-to /
instructional videos every Tuesday night or so, with is pro-grade
equipment & professional editing skills.
– Helped Brant and other members over the weekend – mostly watching to
learn ;)
– Built and flew a kite-camera rig at South Shore Park with Kevin and
David Overbeck. Preview pic: http://twitpic.com/3qzmfl
— We’ll have an edited video that we can associate online with the
Makerspace soon; David is cutting it together.
– Built a chassis for an RC Rock Crawler from a $12 Walmart RC toy.
Preview: http://twitpic.com/3qs6oe

This week:
– Finish the chassis of my rock crawler.
– Work on the actual code for the Internet Coffee Pot.
– Beginning planning a handmade music / musical-electronics group (and
maybe a class on guitar pedal building) with Kevin.
– Get certified on a few more machines.

Tom Gralewicz:
Got the pin ball machine cleaned and working (sound is still a problem)

Lots of work on my 18V NiCd battery charger circuit for the Harbor Freight Drills. The new circuit works but doesn’t reset after you disconnect the battery, I have an idea how to fix that and have a 2nd version of the circuit and board ready for fab.

Worked with Royce building pallets to store the power wheels cars, tried to have a power wheels build Saturday but got distracted :-)

Looked at the lathe and scrounged most of the parts necessary to rewire the starter.

My snippet – work on a wood tool box.

I didn’t actually build it, my father did, based on a very old design. I did some sanding, then photographed it (while still unfinished) and then stained it with a primative-style colored stain.

What I think is interesting about this box is how simple and practical it is. It could be easily mass-produced or designed as kits for other people to assemble, etc, etc.

I posted photos to the Makerspace page in the “MISC” album, but frankly, the blogging feature on the Makerspace is not super-user friendly in terms of adding in photos, etc.

I also posted it to Instructables. http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Wood-Toolbox/

I finished the base for the CNC router.
The next step is to find 3 or 4 guys to help lift the slides onto the
base (they’re *really* heavy). I plan to do this on Tuesday night, when
people are there for the meeting.

After that: brackets for the steppers (need training on the mill), and
a workholding table on top of the slides. Z axis will be the last step.

Also: designed a simple “wedge” to incline my bed by 15 degrees.
Supposedly better than sleeping flat (we’ll see). Need someone to help
transport plywood (although I could build it from 2’x4′ sheets, which
fit in my car).

Pete (member in spirit):
• Tweaking Matt’s code for the Drawbot:
• Perl + Arduino + ShiftBrite fun…. I’ll have another post and a real-world application if I finish the enclosure I’m building.
• I’ll have a write-up about the iPad stand I made… will publish tomorrow.
• Looking into some bristlebot ideas…
• And today I’m modifying my drill press to hold a branding iron…